The date that I saw The Fault in Our Stars and the date that I put my Tumblr blog on hiatus coincide. Here's why.
I follow John Green in more than one place online, so I've been up on the movie adaptation of his best selling novel for a little while now. I was pretty excited for it when it was still in development. But as the advertising campaign grew more and more omnipresent, more and more people on my Tumblr dashboard began to despise it. I can kind of understand where they're coming from. I mean, hearing about one of my favorite books on a Top 40 radio station was pretty jarring and kind of uncomfortable. But that's me operating under the assumption that just because something is popular means that its value is lessened.
In my eyes, the book was never meant to become this popular. It wasn't written for it. There weren't any references to trendy things or popular opinions. If anything, TFiOS debunked them. Gus's whole arc went from something very typical of most people my age (wanting to be something widely known and celebrated) to coming to appreciate Hazel's more quiet existence. It's about accepting the inevitability of death and decay, and coming to appreciate life anyways. That's not built to sell.
But for some reason, it did, and it sold very, very well. I don't think anybody really anticipated the hype it would get; it just kind of happened organically. I do think that it was just a little overhyped. Maybe it was people actually reading into the message, maybe it was people thinking that Augustus Waters was a total dreamboat. It was likely a mix of both. But I sat in the theatre, crying at all the wrong times and downing my popcorn, and I remembered why it was I liked this story in the first place. It was honest. Not perfect, not realistic, but honest. It was a story told in earnest in memory of a friend, and I think that's beautiful.
Of course, as soon as I come home and see my Tumblr feed, my mood is ruined. Perhaps it was just the people I follow, but I saw not one positive thing about the movie on my dash. Not a one. It was nothing but criticisms that seemed to hold no basis in the story itself. I've seen everything from "Hazel and Gus are caricatures of illness" to "he just wrote his dream girl from high school" and none of it matches the book I remember reading. This leads me to believe that people were adopting the same mindset I did when I heard radio ads for it.
So to all of the people who have decided to hate The Fault in Our Stars without having bothered to see or read it:
- Stop. Just stop. Think about what you are doing. Think about things you love. You loved them after you saw/read/did them, yes? Maybe you liked the aesthetic beforehand, maybe not. The point is, you had to actually experience them to appreciate them fully. If you haven't tasted food you cannot pretend to love it or hate it. Same goes for media. Educate yourself before you make yourself into a fool.
- Objective criticism is always useful. I can appreciate the faults in things I enjoy without ceasing to enjoy the thing itself.
- Opinions are always valid if you are honest about them. If you mask just not getting something with "so-and-so had horrible character development" without evidence, or just not coming clean about the real reason you wrinkle your nose at it whenever it's mentioned, then you're just going to come off as ignorant and snobby.
- Remember that just because something is popular doesn't mean that it's meaningless.
The Aspiring Novelist